Hardy's Use of Setting in First Four Phases of Tess

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How Does Hardy Use Setting in the First Four Phases of Tess of the D’Urbervilles? The setting can completely alter a novel. Ordinarily the careful handling of the setting will not only add a degree of verisimilitude to the novel, but also enforce the mood and echo a shift in sensibility. For instance, Charles Dickens made no mistake in his setting of ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ in a foggy, seaside village. However, some authors go further and use the setting to underline the current conditions of their characters. This is a technique utilized by Thomas Hardy, in ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. Hardy uses locations for specific parts of his novel that accentuate Tess’ state due to the situations forced upon her. It is therefore essential that the settings of the novel are appreciated in order for the characters of the novel to be truly understood. In the first phase, Hardy not only uncovers Tess’ homeland of ‘Marlott’ in his descriptions of the setting, but also uncovers Tess’ true nature through the use of a metaphor. ‘Marlott’ is “for the most part untrodden as yet by tourists... though within a four hours’ journey from London”, just as Tess is on the cuspe of womanhood with “phases of her (innocent and vulnerable) childhood (lurking amongst)... all her bouncing womanliness.” This makes a connection between the idea of a child’s naivety being like an unspoilt countryside, whilst a development of sexuality is like a corrupted and polluted, urban city. Furthermore, this demonstrates Hardy’s detestation of urbanisation due to the corruption he believes it to breed in people and may even be considered an omen of the educated and urbanized man, Alec, who will go on to take Tess’ virginity, which was considered in the Victorian era to be the essence of her innocence. The metaphor continues: “ best...viewing...(is)from the summits of the hills...except... during the droughts of summer (or) in bad weather (as it) is apt to engender dissatisfaction” just as a journey...
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